Southern Gentleman turned in the fastest performance of the six divisional winners of the $454,500 Potomac Stakes for 2-year-old pacing colts at Freestate Raceway last night.
Bruce Riegle went for the lead with Southern Gentleman in the fourth division and won in 1:57. It was Riegle's second victory of the night in the Potomac.
Race favorite Freight Saver was forced to start in the second tier and did not get up to speed until late in the race. He finished third behind Townson Hanover, who was 2 1/2 lengths behind Southern Gentleman.
In the first division, driver Billy Haughton maintained control of the race with Singers Star. Haughton took advantage of the slow start of race favorite Boulder Hanover and quickly moved Singers Star to the lead.
Boulder Hanover, driven by Eddie Davis, tucked into second. At the three-quarters pole, Davis challenged, but Singers Star had too much in reserve, crossing the finish line in 1:57 2/5, 2 3/4 lengths in front of fast-closing Brads Fella. Boulder Hanover faded to third.
In the second division, there were four lead changes before Smartest Remark passed the field on the back stretch and won in 1:57 3/5.
Barberry Spur, with Richard Stillings driving, quickly took the lead before the quarter pole when Tropic March and Eddie Davis moved in front. Cheer Power and Sticky Fingers led before the half-mile pole.
But Donald Irvine made his move with Smartest Remark, the 11-to-10 favorite, and passed the leaders by the three-quarters pole. Smartest Remark won by 2 1/2 lengths over Tropic March and Barberry Spur.
In the third division, Riegle made an impressive move at the half-mile pole with Tuscon Hanover to win in 1:58 1/5.
The third division also saw quick lead changes. Tuscon Hanover led early, then Big Jackson and Cherokee Scout were ahead before Tuscon Hanover regained the lead and won.
Tuscon Hanover won by 1 3/4 lengths over fast-closing Roam Hanover, a 59-to-1 long shot driven by John Simpson, Jr. Cherokee Scout, the second choice in the field who was driven by Ben Webster, was third after breaking stride just before the start.
The fifth division was mostly a two-horse race between Maritime Hanover and Boone And Crockett with Maritime Hanover winning out in 1:58.
Boone And Crockett, with Howard Parker, took the lead in the race and paced fast fractions, including a 57 4/5 half. Maritime Hanover, with Walter Case Jr. driving, got a garden trip behind the leader sitting second until the three-quarters pole, then urged his colt out and on to victory by 2 1/2 lengths over Avalanche Spur. Boone And Crockett faded to fourth.
In the final division, the 1-5 favorite Sherman Almahurst was the easy winner in 1:57 2/5 over Awesome Almahurst, who was 1 3/4 lengths back.
Driven by Doug Brown, the victory was Sherman Almahurst's sixth without a defeat this season, increasing his earnings to $183,350.
The crowd of 10,151 wagered $1,081,082 on the 12-race card. It was the second highest handle recorded in Maryland harness history. A year ago, $1,094,054 was wagered on the Potomac card.